Times are hard, but there are things you can do to make buying or building a new computer a little bit cheaper. There are two things to consider.
1) The cost of the hardware.
2) The cost of the software.
Now, the cost of the hardware cannot be avoided. If you are careful, you can get a lot of bang for your buck, but generally speaking you get what you pay for.
Software is an entirely different matter. You can haemorrage money on software and it can easily end up costing you more than the hardware it runs on.
Why spend money when you don’t have to? There is a wealth of software available that is free to use. So here are a few pieces of software that you should consider when setting up your computer.
Thunderbird by Mozilla (the creators of the Firefox web browser) is a very capable e-mail client. It is well supported, with regular updates and plugins available (like the Lightning calendar). It is also very easy to use.
Open Office (currently owned by The Apache Foundation) is a free suite of applications for your day to day office needs. It includes Writer for reading and creating letters and other documents, Calc fulfils your spreadsheet needs, Impress (formaly known as Presentation) for creating slide shows and Draw for creating and editing pictures. It also includes a database system called Base and Math for constructing equations and formulae for your documents.
It has strong community support and there are regular updates to the product suite. Additionally, the applications use the ODF (Open Document Format), but also support the usual suspects in the form of .doc, .xls, etc.
FileZilla is a free FTP client. The chances are if you know what that is, then you don’t need it explaining further. It is a fairly reliable piece of software, so if you need to upload large quantities of data, why not give it a look?
There are costs if you need multiple licenses, Interprise Suite is FREE for a single user. It is also much more than just a simple invoicing system. With it you can track your stock levels, link to your bank account, invoice customers, set up an e-commerce site, keep track of clients with a fully integrated CRM package, access remotely via a browser using a secure login… If you are interested in getting it, why not visit one of the Interprise Suite resellers?
Above are examples of applications you can download and install directly onto your machine. However, if we are talking about cheap applications, then it would be remiss of me to ignore the Cloud.
Cloud services are becoming more prevalent every day and offer a viable alternative to traditional ways of creating and storing data. Google Docs is one such offering and lets you create documents, spreadsheets, drawings and presentations all securely saved for you in the Cloud… and because it is in the Cloud, you can access it from any computer anywhere… as long as there is an internet connection.
Even if you mistrust the Cloud or still favour the brands you have used for years, it’s still worth investigating what is on offer if it means saving you money.